R V Campbell

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  • Topic: Crime, Plea, Guilt
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  • Published : May 31, 2013
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Legal Studies:

R V Campbell [2010] NSWSC 995.

The elements of the offence are that Des Campbell was charged with murder under Section 18 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). Under Subsection (1)(a) Des Campbell was found guilty after trial on the 18th May 2010 of the murder of his wife Janet Campbell of 6 months on the 24th March 2005. After an 11-1 verdict all the elements of the charge were proved beyond reasonable doubt. The offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Description of the elements of the case:

Janet’s first husband died in 1997, leaving her with two properties and Janet was rumoured to be a wealthy woman. She was no athletic and did not participate in any regular exercise; she had also never been camping and had a strong fear of heights. The offender was posted to Deniliquin where he met Janet through work. Campbell also had relationships with other women where he gained money. Janet and the offenders relationship was kept a secret from the family until mid-march 2004, much after their sexual relationship had begun in the middle of 2003, three years after they had met. The family had discouraged Janet from marrying the offender and the wedding was cancelled for the 13th April 2004.

The offender continued to have sexual relationships with other parties in which he gained money from. Janet wrote a will on the 9th August 2004 leaving her entire estate to her son. Soon after Janet was married to Des on the 17th September 2004 and re-wrote her will leaving her entire estate halved between her son and to Des Campbell after the $100000 payment to her son. The offender continued for many months to steal money from Janet through the buying of houses, and not putting the right amount of money into the right accounts when necessary.

On the 23rd February 2005 the offender bought an EPIRB (Emergency Positioning Indication Radio Beacon). Although the service doesn’t allow communication it puts out a tracking signal and is primarily used in maritime purposes. Des Campbell’s sexual relationships with other women continued. On the 18th March 2005 Janet moved from Deniliquin to Otford, she informed her family on the morning of the move and informed them of their marriage.

The morning of 24th March 2005, the day of Janet’s death, Janet had spoken to her mother where she had told her that she was going camping about 5km from their house. The police report shows that Des Campbell had stated that they left their car at the Otford Lookout and had walked along the cliff top track to the junction with the coastal track and then along the coastal track. The offender had indicated that he wanted to camp at Burning palms or Palm Jungle but Janet’s complaints of fatigue had changed the plans. About 2pm they had set up a tent on a sloping tussocky site, about 14 meters from the edge cliff, surrounded by trees and other vegetation.

The offenders account of the night states that Janet had left to go to the toilet some time after 7 but before 8 and about 5-15 seconds later he heard a sigh. He called out but heard no reply, he then went to the edge cliff but could not see her, he returned to fetch his backpack and he went north along the ridge until he found a figure 8 gully, with the use of a rope he managed to aid himself down the cliff where he walked back along the rock platform to where he found Janet. The offender tried resuscitation, even though he knew she was dead, he said he had moved the body so it was not washed away by the waves breaking around them. He activated the EPIRB some time between 7.25 and 7.35, however the position was not ascertained until about 9pm and the first paramedic arrived on site at around 10pm.

A footprint on the edge cliff was proven to be those of Janet’s, and the breakage of the shrubbery around the cliff is also consistent to her trying to safe herself from falling to her death. The imprint of her foot was established to be proven she was upright before she fell to her...
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